I have just (like, five minutes ago, and it may or may not be related to the large-ish glass of wine sitting on the desk) made what may turn out to be a ridiculous decision to do a blog a day for the next 12 days. The 12 days of Christmas, see?! Just to be clear, I do not have access to a partridge in a pear tree, nor any maids a milking or lords (leaping, or otherwise. ) I would hate for anyone to be lured into reading this under any false pretense. But I do really love Christmas, and also a challenge. A combination of the two would seem to be a great plan, right?! Twelve days takes us to the 23rd. That’s far enough; Christmas Eve is far too exciting a day to be spending time reading my ramblings.
Along with Christmas and a challenge, another thing I really love is independent shops. I thoroughly enjoy shopping in places that have a bit of personality. So this year, I made a decision to do as much of my Christmas shopping as possible in independent shops, and indeed in the much-maligned Bedford town centre. (John Lewis shops in any location have special dispensation for being generally lovely, and, well, just for being John Lewis.) Luckily, some fab people working on the Bedford Portas Pilot Project have already come up with a campaign to promote Bedford shopping. Clever.
So, for my first of 12 blogs, here are some of my Christmas shopping-local ideas I’ll let you steal.
First up, I met a lovely new member of staff at Kiosk At The Park recently. We got chatting, and it turns out that Hannah doesn’t just make great cappuccinos, she also makes beautiful jewellery. Just simple, understated, and astonishingly beautifully packaged. Beautiful packaging is crucial at Christmas, I feel. It looks like you (or, in reality, the person you have bought it from,) has made a bit of an effort. This is important.
You can find out more about Hannah and her work here at her online shop.“Nothing is perfect, but we can seek beauty in unexpected places and, by being comfortable in our own skin we have the ability to flourish,” it says on her website. That’s pretty profound for a jewellery range, you have to admit. You really don’t get that from Elizabeth Duke at Argos.
(I can’t actually show you the contents of the pretty box, as it is a Christmas present for someone who may read this at some point. Take my word for it – it’s beautiful.)
You’d be very silly not to do some Christmas shopping at Fancy on Roff Avenue. Fancy has a great selection of locally deigned and produced crafts -including our t-shirts, (shameless plug over) – and some rather nifty purses by Janet from Kitchen Table Sewing. Buying handmade gifts that you didn’t personally make is always a clever move if, like me, your approach to sewing is like watching an elephant trying to pick up a pen. Especially cool is the stuff – teatowles, mugs, prints- from local printing geniuses (genii – I always think this should be an actual word.) Sideshow Designs (Who also happen to have designed the Very Bedford Christmas postcard. Multitasking! Oooh, the envy!)
But the added bonus of shopping at Fancy is clearly the cakes. I never, ever tire of their ginger cake, and at this time of year it would just be rude not to try their Christmas Cake. Now that’s special. How much nicer is it to wander round the corner for Christmas shopping and a cup of tea with added cake, than fighting your way through through crowds in Oxford Street/Milton Keynes? A lot nicer, is the answer to that. And anyway, it was kind of a rhetorical question.
Right, on the second day of Christmas, my true love (really, true love? it sounds more like someone with household-cluttering issues to me,) gave to me: two turtle doves AND another two reasons to shop local, but not in a weird League of Gentlemen way…